Belton smashed its school record in the 400-yard freestyle relay on the first day of the Suburban Blue Conference girls’ swimming and diving championships.
So, what would the Pirates do for an encore?
Smash it again.
The second smashing came Feb. 3 during the finals, when the Pirates shaved another 4 seconds off the record and captured the conference championship in the day’s final race at the Lee’s Summit Aquatic Center.
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The relay win capped a day in which Belton had nine individual finalists in eight events and finished third overall as a team.
“The girls are coming together well,” Belton coach Martijn Keltner said. “Our top six girls are swimming really well. They’ve really bonded.”
That group includes sophomore Mikaela Aurand, senior Marisa Palmer, senior Camille Ankenbrand and junior Gabby Stoddard, who led from start to finish in winning the 400 free relay in 3 minutes, 57.98 seconds. That was 4 seconds faster than runner-up Kearney and a whopping 26 seconds faster than third-place Platte County.
Aurand said the Pirates were hoping for a sub-four minute time, but they didn’t expect to be that far under four minutes.
“(Friday) I know we set our goals high, we set our standards high and reached those goals,” Aurand said. “Then, today we came in and said, ‘Hey, let’s push it, give it all we got’ and we left it all in the pool and it definitely showed in our time.”
Aurand began the final day by winning the 50 freestyle in 25.67 seconds and adding a fourth-place finish in the 100 butterfly. Gabby Stoddard placed second in the 100 freestyle and her sister, Kayleigh Stoddard, placed in three events — fourth in the 100 backstroke, seventh in the 200 freestyle and eighth in the 100 butterfly.
Palmer placed third in the 200 freestyle and fourth in the 500 freestyle for Belton, while Grace Keltner was third in the 100 breaststroke and fourth in the 200 individual medley.
Among other finalists for the Pirates: Sydney Morgan finished second in the 100 breaststroke and fifth in the 200 individual medley; Ankenbrand was third in the 100 backstroke and fifth in the 500 freestyle; Skylar Kunsh claimed seventh in the 100 freestyle; and Morgan Graves placed seventh in the 100 breaststroke.
Belton also placed second in the 200 medley relay, but it wasn’t enough to catch Kearney, which won the other two relays along with six individual events and repeated as champions with 525 team points. Platte County was second with 438 points with the Pirates in third with 389 points.
Belton had hoped for a shot at second, but that was dashed when its 200 freestyle relay was disqualified for a swimmer leaving the starting block too soon.
That didn’t ruin the whole day for the Pirates, who competed in their final Suburban Blue meet after being moved up to the White division for next season. The Pirates set a record for wins this season and expect to qualify a program-record four individuals to the next weekend’s state meet in St. Peters.
“We’re so excited,” Aurand said. “We’re ready for state and we’re just building that momentum.”
Panthers finish seventh
Raymore-Peculiar finished seventh in the Suburban Gold Conference meet with 192 points.
Ray-Pec had two finalists — Sydney Schmoeger, who placed fourth in the 500 freestyle and fifth in the 100 butterfly, and Kayla Cea, who was eighth in the 50 freestyle.
Blue Springs won the team title with 417 points followed by Blue Springs South (366) and Lee’s Summit West (329).